By Schnarr, J.W., Lethbridge Herald -- Local students are learning what it takes to be ironworkers through an introductory program now in its second year in Lethbridge.
The Trades and Climate Change Program, an introduction to ironworking, is a joint effort between Career Transitions and the Ironworkers Local 725 based out of Calgary.
The program involves 10-week block training with a curriculum which includes theory and classroom activity – but is primarily hands-on learning.
Topics covered include safety training, trades math and tape measure skills, rigging, rebar, rough terrain forklift, high angle rescue, introduction to wind turbines and job search support.
Judy Stolk-Ingram, executive director for Career Transitions, said the program is a unique experience for local students.
“There’s really no other program like this,” she said. “It takes students and gives them real-world training and experience, and gives them a path directly into a trade.”
Rob Talver, Business Manager for the Ironworkers Local 725, said the students receive training in life skills as well as work skills.
“We had parents coming up to us last year saying you turned our cellar-dweller into a man,” said Talver.
“Our two golden rules are attitude and attendance. We’re not in a production setting here. We’re in a learning setting.”
Victoria Park High School Grade 12 student Gavin Fisher said he was impressed with the amount of learning he has done since entering the program.
“I go home to my mom, and, after the first day I was telling her all the stuff I learned,” he said. “She said, ‘Isn’t it crazy how much stuff you learn in one day?’
“It really is. You learn so much in one day with hands-on work, rather than sitting in a classroom having your teacher talk to you all day.”
Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge West and Minister of Environment and Parks, said as the economy moves forward, it is important to train Alberta residents for careers now and into the future.
“There’s lots of problems to solve in the 21st century,” she said. “We have the workforce, and the knowhow, and all of the clever Albertans to solve them.”
Cheryl Gilmore, Lethbridge School Division No. 51 Superintendent, said Lethbridge lends itself well to opportunity.
“Lethbridge is really the optimal environment for being nimble,” she said. “People talk, collaborate, and make things happen with one another.”
Stolk-Ingram noted the importance of partnerships with business and industry in providing opportunities for young people.
“When we partner with people who are actually doing the work, you just can’t get better training than that,” she said.
Talver said southern Alberta kids bring a strong work ethic and willingness to learn to the table.
“We are sitting on a goldmine in southern Alberta with the quality of the young people we get in this program,” he said.
“It’s not easy to get in this program, but the kids we get up show up in trucks and are willing to work. We don’t have an attendance problem down here.
“Down here, this is what Ironworkers used to start out as. Farm kids, rural kids, who want to go to work, make money, and do something with their hands.
“Theoretically, with this program, these kids could be journeymen by the time they are 21, and then the world is their oyster.”
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